The synod of bishops at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, meeting currently at the Phanar in Istanbul, Turkey, has rejected the list of three candidates for the position of Metropolitan of Chicago.
An official statement has not yet been made as information received by The Pappas Post came from within the meeting quarters, which is still in session.
The seat was vacated following the death of Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, who held the seat for more than 40 years.
The synod of American Metropolitans, comprising the hierarchs from the Metropolises of Boston, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Atlanta, Detroit, Denver and San Francisco and presided over by Archbishop Demetrios of America, met in New York City on July 6 to deliberate and create what the Church calls a “triprosopon,” or list of three names.
These three names are then submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for review by thy Synod and ultimate election of the new Metropolitan.
Traditionally, the Patriarchate’s synod selects the first name on the list, which in this case was Bishop Sebastian of Zela, who held the position of Secretary of the Holy Synod and Spiritual Advisor to the National Philoptochos Society at the Archdiocese in New York City.
In addition to Bishop Sebastian, the other two individuals on the list were Archimandrites Gerasimos Makris from Brooklyn, NY and George Nikas from Salt Lake City, UT.
But the Ecumenical Patriarchate has the right, according to church rules, to reject the three-person list and return it, without cause, explanation or reason.
A source at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of his position told The Pappas Post that there were “serious reservations” about the selection of Bishop Sebastian to the number one position on the list and ultimately as the new Metropolitan of Chicago.
“Chicago is the crown jewel of the American Church. What many people don’t understand is that the position of Metropolitan isn’t only ceremonial. There is so much more involved. You’re dealing with dozens of parishes, extensive travel, administrative and human resources challenges, not to mention tremendous pressure from various circles and camps both within and outside the church,” said the anonymous administrator at the Archdiocese in a confidential email.
He went on to say that many people throughout the country and in and around Chicago “had serious reservations about Bishop Sebastian’s stamina, capabilities and experience to handle such a prodigious and complex position like head of the Chicago Metropolis, given his limited administrative experience and his limited English language skills.”
There has been no official response from Archdiocesan headquarters in New York City but this will certainly create a rift between New York City and Istanbul, as it was widely regarded that Bishop Sebastian was the Archbishop’s personal choice and he lobbied heavily for his position on top of the list.